For those not used to engaging in regular exercise, getting started can be a challenge. A good approach when starting is adopting the mindset that you are developing and adding a new and permanent element to your lifestyle with the purpose being an overall increase in your quality of life and sense of well-being.
*You should always check with your doctor before starting any new fitness program.*
Here are some tips on incorporating exercise into your lifestyle.
Commit to it.
Develop a plan. Your exercise plan should be flexible over time allowing you to alter it as needed to fit your preferences and schedule.
Blend equal parts cardio and strength work.
Make it fun and varied. Personalize your plan. Do what you enjoy (or at least what you don’t hate). Be flexible.
Make time for it. Don’t make excuses, just get it done. Plan for it. Prioritize it.
Track it and monitor your personal fitness progress.
Types of plans
Your plan will only work for you if you are invested in it. Some people create their own plans from scratch. Others prefer prepackaged workout plans available on DVD or online. Some like to go to the gym and/or they hire a personal trainer.
Exercise can be any form of movement. Of course the more you move, the greater the benefit. Here are some suggestions:
Try to start with 30 minutes of exercise at least three days a week. Over time try to increase the frequency and duration of the exercise. 60 minutes a day at six days a week is an excellent goal. But remember that any amount of exercise is better than none – research shows that even 10 minutes a day is beneficial!
If you like structure, try a prepackaged plan such as P90X or Insanity. (I would not encourage you to follow these program’s diet plans unless you just really want to. They are too restrictive and most people get discouraged on such diets. See tips for eating in our eating page). But don’t get trapped thinking you have to follow the plans exactly. If your preference or schedule requires you to modify the plan, do so. I know lots of people who bought these plans and only used them a week or two, then quit exercising altogether because they became discouraged by either the plans intensity or the rigidity of its schedule. PACE YOURSELF. Alter the plan to suit your preferences. Click to check out P90X and Insanity.
Use a heart monitor watch. You’ll need one with a chest-strap transmitter and can get one for 50 to 100 dollars. This device allows you to monitor several aspects of your workout including heart rate and calories burned. Figure out what your heart rate “zone” should be for your workouts.
Engage in “Effort-Driven Rewards Circuit” activities. These are activities that give you some sort of payoff or reward at the end (i.e. – gardening, building a deck). So, run a 10k and get a t-shirt. Measure your activities and pat yourself on the back for noted improvements. Research shows that movement, especially movement that leads to meaningful outcomes, plays a key role in preventing the onset of and building resilience against depression and other emotional disorders.
Track your Progress! This is VERY important. Keep a workout notebook or, better yet, set up a myfitnesspal.com account and use it daily (I use both the myfitnesspal and a notebook). Myfittnesspal.com is a free application that you can access via your computer or phone that allows you to track your caloric intake and output. You start by opening an account and imputing your weight, age, gender, height and weight loss goal in pounds/week, and it tells you how many calories to eat each day. Then you simply inter in your daily food and exercise – and the more you exercise the more you get to eat! Myfitnesspal is simple, free and very easy to use. Click to check out myfitnesspal.com
Use technology. Technology is part of the problem for a lot of people. They get addicted to it and become sedentary. But there is helpful technology for fitness. Get a hand-held GPS to track mileage for walks/runs/hikes. Buy a pedometer to count your steps ($5 to $10 at Wal-Mart). Use myfitnesspal.com or similar website. Use the fitness options on your Wii.
Join a gym that is located between your home and job then remember to visit it.
Take a fitness class.
Get outside and experience nature. More and more research is being done that shows the positive effects of playing in nature (i.e. hiking, kayaking) on the mind and body. I just read an article about some current research that’s suggesting that backpacking/camping in the back woods makes people smarter! So get outside!
Learn to love to sweat.
Sheltered Cove Counseling Center 6488 Spring St., Suite 102, Douglasville, GA 30134 ph: 770-949-1595 fax: 770-489-7521